I see a lot of progressives panicking over today's Rasmussen poll showing that Norm Coleman has jumped into the lead over Al Franken.
Over at Swing State, there's speculation that Norm's bump is due to his recent StarTribune endorsement, or a strong debate performance, or his (phony) pledge that he won't run any more negative ads.
Ok, I'm going to deal everything I can think of on why it's not time to panic.
Here's my best shot: Nate's comments, brilliant-as-always, on this race over at 538:
Minnesota remains too close to call, if tilting very slightly to Al Franken. The key factor here is the support for independent Dean Barkley, who is still polling at about 18 percent, but much of that support is likely to collapse by election day. From parsing the SurveyUSA cross-tabs, it appears that about 29 percent of Barkley's vote comes from Democrats, 20 percent from Republicans, and 51 percent from true independents. Also, roughly two-thirds of Barkley's voters are pro-choice. This means that the race is probably Franken's to lose, but with so much advertising on both sides, it can be hard to drive a message.
I have to agree. People love to tell pollsters that they're voting for the third party candidate, but it usually ain't true (ok I know Ventura won in Minnesota, but work with me here). For example, Nader polled an average of 1.0% in 2004, but only got 0.38% on election day. I'm confident that many pro-choice, anti-war voters who were considering Barkley will go blue.
Some other stuff I hope will help those of us who loved Paul Wellstone keep our spirits up:
Brian Melendez has a pretty good comeback to the StarTribune's Coleman endorsement today:
But even as Coleman embraces bipartisanship and eschews attack politics, he is running a second campaign: an aggressive behind-the-scenes race to chair the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate Republicans' campaign arm. Coleman sought the job unsuccessfully once before. So while he's claiming that he abhors partisanship, he is actively seeking the role of the Republicans' chief attack dog. As NRSC chair, Coleman's job would be to attack and unseat Democrats -- not work across the aisle with them.
Worse, the NRSC that Coleman wants to head is behind some of the most vicious smears that Minnesotans have seen in this election. For starters, it besmirched Sen. Paul Wellstone's memory by mischaracterizing Al Franken's loving impersonation of his friend Paul as an example of "anger."
More good stuff: The Big Dog himself, Bill Clinton, will rally for Al on Thursday. Meanwhile, Coleman is being forced to answer some embarrassing questions regarding a lawsuit filed against contributor Nasser Kazeminy.
Why this means so much to me:
I was an intern in the Office of Senator Tom Harkin in 1992 when Paul Wellstone told a reporter, "Tom is my best friend in the Senate." Senator Harkin said the same about Paul in 2002. Thank you.